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MLB, MLBPA in talks to create a treatment program, not punishment, for opioid use

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Back in October it was revealed that Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ death was attributable to an opioid overdose. In the wake of that report, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association began discussions about the creation of a testing regime for opioids.

At the time this was met with some skepticism, because drug testing in professional sports has tended to focus on punishment and suspensions, and such things would likely discourage addicts from seeking the help they need rather than encourage it.

Yesterday, however, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark spoke to the press and said that MLB and the union were on the verge of an agreement that would put those concerns to rest:

Players who test positive for opioids would enter treatment and not be suspended under the change to Major League Baseball’s drug agreement being negotiated by management and the players’ association, according to union head Tony Clark.

. . . “We believe wholeheartedly, as we always have, that the treatment option and not discipline is the best route to go,” Clark said Wednesday as the union’s executive board finished its annual meeting.

Good to hear.

Not that all the work to be done on this matter requires a new agreement.

As we’ve discussed at length, Skaggs’ opioid use was well-known by many people in the game, including at least one high-ranking front office employee of the Angels. Per the current Joint Drug Agreement, team and league officials have an affirmative duty to report a players’ drug use to the league, which would then get him into a treatment program. The club failed in its duties in this regard. If it hadn’t — if the system in place had been adhered to — there is a chance that Skaggs could’ve gotten the help that could’ve saved his life. As such, there needs to be more education about such things for team employees.

In the meantime, however, a drug testing regime aimed at treatment — and a treatment program aimed at treating the addiction, not at just getting the addict back on the field — is welcome.

Rockies, Trevor Story agree on two-year, $27.5 million contract

Trevor Story
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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Rockies and shortstop Trevor Story have come to terms on a two-year, $27.5 million deal, buying out his two remaining years of arbitration eligibility.

Story, 27, and the Rockies did not agree on a salary before the deadline earlier this month. Story filed for $11.5 million while the team countered at $10.75 million. The average annual value of this deal — $13.75 million — puts him a little bit ahead this year and likely a little bit behind next year.

This past season in Colorado, Story hit .294/.363/.554 with 35 home runs, 85 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases over 656 trips to the plate. He also continued to rank among the game’s best defensive shortstops. Per FanGraphs, Story’s 10.9 Wins Above Replacement over the last two seasons is fifth-best among shortstops (min. 1,000 PA) behind Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Marcus Semien.

With third baseman Nolan Arenado likely on his way out via trade, one wonders if the same fate awaits Story at some point over the next two seasons.